11.30.2008

It looks like the race for number two in the BCS is going to come down to Texas and Oklahoma. Both teams have identical records, but Texas beat Oklahoma earlier this season. So where's the debate? Does an on-field result no longer carry any weight just because the loser likes to run up the score on teams later in the season? If that's the case, why bother playing the games in the first place?

If we're going to discount the head-to-head meeting (which is completely ridiculous), then the debate is about which team is better at this juncture of the season. Okay, let's have that discussion.

Oklahoma scores a lot of points. Sam Bradford leads an impressive offense that can seemingly score points at will on anybody (except Texas). The national media wants to praise them for their poise and ability to answer every opponent's score with a touchdown of their own. I seem to remember a Texas team doing that in the Cotton Bowl a month and a half ago.

Oh yeah, there's also two other phases of the game: defense and special teams. Maybe if the Sooners were a little better in those two areas their offense wouldn't have to score so many points. Oklahoma State ran up and down the field to the tune of 41 points. That was the second time this season the Oklahoma defense gave up 40 or more points (the first time was against Texas).

The Cowboys also returned a kick for a touchdown - the FOURTH time that has happened against Oklahoma this season (you guessed it - one was by Jordan Shipley of the Longhorns). At the end of the day, Oklahoma still has the same weaknesses that were on display in the Cotton Bowl. So don't give me that garbage that they are the "hotter" team right now. They just haven't had to play another team of Texas' caliber lately.

It's a no brainer to me - there is no argument. No matter how you want to look at the two teams, Texas is better than Oklahoma. They were better on October 11th, and they are better right now.

Without further ado, here's the latest JP Top 25:

1. Alabama
112-0
2. Texas
211-1
3. Oklahoma311-1
4. Florida411-1
5. USC510-1
6. Penn State
611-1
7. Utah
812-0
8. Texas Tech
711-1
9. Ohio State
1010-2
10. Oklahoma State
119-3
11. TCU
1210-2
12. Boise State
1412-0
13. Cincinnati1610-2
14. Georgia Tech
179-3
15. Georgia
99-3
16. Boston College
189-3
17. California
197-4
18. Oregon
239-3
19. Michigan State
219-3
20. Ball State
2512-0
21. Missouri
139-3
22. Ole Miss
248-4
23. Virginia Tech
--8-4
24. Oregon State
158-4
25. Pittsburgh
--8-3

Others Receiving Consideration:
Nebraska (8-4), BYU (10-2), North Carolina (8-4), Northwestern (9-3), Iowa (8-4), West Virginia (7-4), Florida State (8-4), Rice (9-3), Western Michigan (9-3)

Dropped Out:
Florida State (20), West Virginia (22)

Week Fourteen Results - 7 on 7 Drills

Well well well. We have a tie heading into the final week of the regular season. It should be an interesting finish.




WEEK FOURTEEN
1. Maryland @ Boston College
Brent: Boston College
Jason: Maryland
2. Fresno State @ Boise State
Brent: Boise State
Jason: Boise State
3. Georgia Tech @ Georgia
Brent: Georgia
Jason: Georgia
4. West Virginia @ Pittsburgh
Brent: Pittsburgh
Jason: West Virginia
5. Florida @ Florida State
Brent: Florida
Jason: Florida
6. Oregon @ Oregon State
Brent: Oregon State
Jason: Oregon State
7. Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State
Brent: Oklahoma
Jason: Oklahoma


WEEK FOURTEEN RESULTS
Brent5-2 (71.4%)
Jason3-4 (42.9%)

SEASON RESULTS
Jason64-34 (65.3%)
Brent64-34 (65.3%)

11.29.2008

BP Picks against the Spread 11/29

Ball St -11 vs W Michigan
Northern Illinois -3 vs Navy
Texas -35 vs Texas A&M
Pittsburgh +3 vs W Virginia
Ole Miss -13.5 vs Mississippi ST.
Ohio +1 at Miami Oh
UTEP +5 at E Carolina
Temple -2.5 vs Akron
CMU -10.5 at EMU
Buffalo -10 vs Kent St.
Arkansas +4.5 vs LSU
Colorado +16.5 at Nebraska
Bowling Green -2.5 at Toledo
Boise St -20 vs Fresno St.
UCLA +10 vs Arizona St
Georgia -8.5 vs Georgia Tech
Cincinnati -22 vs Syracuse
NC State +1.5 vs Miami
Virginia Tech -8.5 vs Virginia
Missouri -14 vs Kansas
Memphis -13.5 vs Tulane
Arkansas St -20.5 at NoTexas
Louisiana Tech -4 vs Nevada
Rice +3 vs Houston
N Mexico St +6 at Utah St
Southern Miss -13.5 at SMU
Maryland +7 at Boston College
North Carolina -8.5 at Duke
Texas Tech -20 vs Baylor
Florida -15.5 at Florida St
Alabama -14 vs Auburn
Tulsa -13.5 at Marshall
UAB +9 at UCF
Florida Atlantic -5.5 vs FIU
Tennessee -4.5 vs Kentucky
Oregon St -3.5 vs Oregon
Wake Forest -4 vs Vanderbuilt
Oklahoma -8 at Oklahoma St
USC -29.5 vs Notre Dame
Hawaii -29.5 vs Washington St.

11.27.2008

WEEK FOURTEEN - Top 25 Preview (Part II)

You know there is going to be a shakeup somewhere this week. The holidays seem to bring out the worst in top ranked teams, and if last year is any indication, the schools that now seem most likely to play for the National Title game won't even be in the picture by Sunday.

Two schools in the thick of the national title picture must hit the road to face ranked opponents - could disaster strike there? Who is safe? Who is going to fall? Here is Pikes Picks' guide to the top ranked schools most likely to lose this weekend. Keep in mind though, chaos rules this time of year, so these are only our best guesses.

Texas A&M (4-7) at #2 Texas (10-1)
(Thursday, 7 pm, ESPN)
Chance of Shakeup: 5%
A&M has won the last two meetings, but this is a different year. Texas has only really played one bad half all season, and the Aggies are struggling. Mike Sherman didn't inherit a lot of talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Expect Colt McCoy and the Longhorns to light up the scoreboard early as they cruise to a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter. Brian Orakpo is back from injury and looking to hit double figures in sacks. Knowing Will Muschamp will be around for a while will certainly energize the rest of the defense and they'll shut down the Aggies.
J.Pike's Pick: Texas 48, Texas A&M 13
H.Simons' Pick: Texas 35, Texas A&M 14

Notre Dame (6-5) at #5 USC (9-1)
(Saturday, 7 pm, ESPN)
Chance of Shakeup: 5%
As it turns out, Charlie Weis doesn't give Notre Dame a "schematic advantage" over everybody they face. In fact, Notre Dame holds very little advantage over even the least imposing opponents - other than in the arrogance department. USC is looking to stay alive in the BCS race, and this should be nothing more than a scrimmage. Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen has yet to show any improvement as he continues to throw ill-advised passes that lead to interceptions. USC's imposing defense will have a field day forcing turnovers. This one will be over early.
J.Pike's Pick: USC 45, Notre Dame 12

#4 Florida (10-1) at #20 Florida State (8-3)
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC)
Chance of Shakeup: 25%
Florida has built up some momentum down the stretch, but did the detour against The Citadel last weekend knock them off course? I know the Gators took care of business early, but did they lose their feel for playing actual opponents in the process? Florida State is improving, and the defense will slow down the Gators overrated offense. However, the speed on the Gator defense is unmatched anywhere in the country. Brandon Spikes and company will make Christian Ponder ponder his decision to attend Florida State University. Look for Florida's defense and special teams to combine to score as many points as either offense in this game.
J.Pike's Pick: Florida 34, Florida State 17

#3 Oklahoma (10-1) at #11 Oklahoma State (9-2)
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
Chance of Shakeup: 35%
Bedlam. Oklahoma State would love nothing more than to ruin the Sooners dreams of another National Title game appearance. They have more tools to accomplish the feat than Texas Tech did, too, but is that really saying much? Running back Kendall Hunter and tight end Brandon Pettigrew are two dynamic weapons that can mix things up against an Oklahoma defense that will surely be playing with inflated egos after their dominating performance against the one-dimensional Red Raiders. For Oklahoma State to pull the upset, they are going to have to handle their emotions, get Hunter going on the ground early, and hit Pettigrew or receiver Dez Bryant deep for a big play or two. It is all possible, but I'm picking the Sooners.
J.Pike's Pick: Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 27

Baylor (4-7) at #7 Texas Tech (10-1)
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, Versus)
Chance of Shakeup: 40%
Texas Tech is finished, and they still need two more losses to fill the "Mike Leach Quota" for the year. Against Oklahoma last week, Leach reverted to his old self by going for it on fourth down twice in the early going, essentially assuring that his team would be blown out of the building. Now one of Leach's top proteges comes to town with a hot shot freshman quartebrack named Robert Griffin and all the knowledge necessary to land another knockout punch on the reeling Red Raiders.
J.Pike's Pick: Baylor 41, Texas Tech 35

Auburn (5-6) at #1 Alabama (11-0)
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, CBS)
Chance of Shakeup: 50%
Auburn has had a terrible season, but they aren't nearly as bad as their record would lead you to believe. The defense is actually quite good. They rank 10th nationally in points allowed, giving up only 16.4 per game. Believe me - when Sen'Derrick Marks wants to track you down, he'll get you. Marks should be healthy for the Iron Bowl after sitting out the last two games with an ankle injury. Alabama has proven to be inconsistent offensively all year, so Marks and pass rusher Antonio Coleman could make a big difference. The player I expect to make the biggest difference though is a player former offensive coordinator Tony Franklin never gave a chance - quarterback Kodi Burns. Burns has been getting better every week since Franklin got fired. His athleticism gives the offense a dimension the Tigers never had under Chris Todd. Burns is also much more confident in the pocket than Todd, which means he'll make fewer stupid mistakes than Todd did. In a rivalry game that is always hard fought and low scoring, I look for Kodi Burns to make the difference with his improvisation skills. Auburn salvages their season with a huge upset win.
J.Pike's Pick: Auburn 17, Alabama 13

WEEK FOURTEEN - Top 25 Preview (Part I)


#6 Penn State
(11-1) is IDLE
NEXT: BCS Bowl game (completed regular season)

#8 Utah (12-0) is IDLE
NEXT: BCS Bowl game (completed regular season)


#17 Georgia Tech (8-3) at #9 Georgia (9-2)
(Saturday, 11 am, CBS)
The Peach State rivalry wasn't expected to be this up in the air. Georgia was the preseason #1 team in the land and Georgia Tech was supposed to suffer the growing pains that go along with breaking in a new head coach. Now it looks like Georgia Tech is the team on the rise and Georgia is the program treading water. Georgia has a couple elements that give them the edge here though. One is obviously running back Knowshon Moreno. Moreno is the antidote to Georgia Tech's excellent defensive line, and I think he'll eventually get the better of that matchup. The second is the speed and experience the Bulldogs possess on the defensive side of the ball. Whereas Miami struggled to stay disciplined against Paul Johnson's triple option attack, Rennie Curran and company will be in the right place at the right time to slow down Josh Nesbitt and Jonathan Dwyer.
J.Pike's Pick: Georgia 28, Georgia Tech 24

#10 Ohio State (10-2) is IDLE
NEXT: Bowl game (completed regular season)

#12 TCU (10-2) is IDLE
NEXT: Bowl game (completed regular season)

Kansas (6-5) vs #13 Missouri (9-2)
@Kansas City, MO
(Saturday, 11:30 am, FSN)
There isn't nearly as much pizzazz in this matchup as there was a year ago when a tickets to both the Big XII and National Title games were on the line for both teams. To put it quite simply, Kansas isn't as good as they were a year ago. Without players like Aqib Talib and Brandon McAnderson, the Jayhaks are without any legitimate weapons. Missouri has proven themselves to be overrated as well, but with Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin there is still enough firepower on hand to score points in a hurry.
J.Pike's Pick: Missouri 38, Kansas 27

Fresno State (7-4) at #14 Boise State (11-0)
(Friday, 5 pm, ESPN 2)
Boise's perfect season is on the line against Fresno State. The defense fell apart down the stretch against Nevada last week - nearly blowing second half leads of 31-10 and 41-24. Now that a BCS Bowl berth looks unlikely for the Broncos (Utah will likely take their spot), how much do they have to play for? Fortunately for Boise, Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater has been playing poorly all season and doesn't appear to be capable of leading an upset charge.
J.Pike's Pick: Boise State 30, Fresno State 27

#23 Oregon (8-3) at #15 Oregon State (8-3)
(Saturday, 6 pm, Versus)
If you can believe it, the Pac-10 title is on the line north of the California border Saturday night. The Oregon State Beavers hold the tie breaker advantage over USC thanks to their head-to-head win early in the season. So if Mike Riley's troops can win this game, the Beavers - not the Trojans - will be getting the automatic BCS bid. Mighty Mite freshman Jacquizz Rodgers is questionable for the game, but I don't care. Oregon State is fired up and still has plenty of speed to spare in James Rodgers and Sammie Stroughter.
J.Pike's Pick: Oregon State 35, Oregon 28

Syracuse (3-8) at #16 Cincinnati (9-2)
(Saturday, 11 am, ESPN360.com)
Tony Pike and the Bearcats can clinch the Big East title and a BCS bowl berth with a win over Syracuse Saturday. Pike has Heisman eyes watching, so expect him to take full advantage of an outmanned Syracuse team and put up another 300-yards passing.
J.Pike's Pick: Cincinnati 27, Syracuse 13

Maryland (7-4) at #18 Boston College (8-3)
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC/ESPN 2)
Welcome to the ACC where chaos reins supreme. Boston College enters this contest ranked and favored - which means you can count on Maryland for the win. Quarterback Chris Crane is out for the season with a broken collarbone, which means Dominique Davis will get the starting nod. Davis led the game winning drive against Wake Forest a week ago and brings a lot more athleticism to the position. But he doesn't have the same grasp of the offense that Crane developed over the course of the season, so the playbook will be limited. Maryland quarterback Chris Turner generally plays his best against ranked opponents, so look for the Terps to make up for their poor showing against Florida State last weekend with a win on the road over the Eagles.
J. Pike's Pick: Maryland 20, Boston College 14

#19 California (7-4) is IDLE
NEXT: vs. Washington (0-11)

#21 Michigan State (9-3) is IDLE
NEXT: Bowl game (completed regular season)

#22 West Virginia (7-3) at Pittsburgh (7-3)
(Friday, 11 am, ABC)
West Virginia's national title dreams were squashed by a Pitt in an upset last year. This year there won't be nearly as many national viewers because neither team is really all that good. Mountaineer speed, in the form of Pat White and Noel Devine, will get their revenge though.
J.Pike's Pick: West Virginia 27, Pittsburgh 24

Mississippi State (4-7) at #24 Ole Miss (7-4)
(Friday, 11:30 am, Raycom)
The Egg Bowl is an underrated rivalry. It's not always the best football, but for some reason I still watch it. Houston Nutt has Ole Miss on the rise in the SEC, and they have a lot more offensive firepower than Mississippi State will be able to muster.
J.Pike's Pick: Ole Miss 24, Mississippi State 13

#25 Ball State (12-0) is IDLE
NEXT: MAC Championship Game vs. Buffalo (7-4)

11.24.2008

JP Top 25

This season keeps getting crazier and crazier. The possibilities for the Big XII and ACC title games are seemingly endless, and there's only a couple more weeks left in the regular season. The national title picture is equally cloudy.

There's a lot of turnover in the poll this week. Five teams are in the poll that weren't there a week ago, thanks in large part to the consistently inconsistent ACC.

Without further ado, here's the latest JP Top 25:

1. Alabama
211-0
2. Texas
310-1
3. Oklahoma510-1
4. Florida410-1
5. USC69-1
6. Penn State
711-1
7. Texas Tech
110-1
8. Utah1012-0
9. Georgia89-2
10. Ohio State910-2
11. Oklahoma State
119-2
12. TCU1610-2
13. Missouri139-2
14. Boise State
1211-0
15. Oregon State
148-3
16. Cincinnati259-2
17. Georgia Tech
228-3
18. Boston College
238-3
19. California--7-4
20. Florida State
--8-3
21. Michigan State
159-3
22. West Virginia
--7-3
23. Oregon248-3
24. Ole Miss
--7-4
25. Ball State
--11-0

Others Receiving Consideration:
Virginia Tech (7-4), Nebraska (7-4), Pittsburgh (7-3), BYU (10-2), LSU (7-4), Maryland (7-4), North Carolina (7-4), Northwestern (9-3), Iowa (8-4)

Dropped Out:
Pittsburgh (17), Maryland (18), North Carolina (19), Miami (20), LSU (21)

Tony Pike is Unstoppable

In the thick of races for both the Big East title and the Heisman, Tony Pike played the best game of his career in a huge victory over rival Pittsburgh on Saturday. Pike led the Bearcats to their first victory over Pitt in the school's history, and inched closer to clinching the Big East title.

Pike was nearly perfect throwing the ball (only 6 incomplete passes in 32 attempts), but most impressive were his rushing attempts. Despite playing with a broken left arm, Pike was called on to run a handful of quarterback draws. Pitt had no answer. Take it from Dave Wannstedt:

"We had no answer fot that quarterback. He was incredible."

That's right, Pike was "incredible." That's no surprise to us here at Pikes Picks though.

A win over Syracuse next week will guarantee Cincinnati a slot in the BCS, which means a Pike will finally get to play in a BCS game.


The Tony Pike Stat Line
Passing: 26/32 (81.3%) for 309 yards, 3 td, 0 int
Rushing: 9 attempts for 33 yards

See sidebar for season stats

WEEK THIRTEEN - 7 on 7 Drills

Well, Brent, you can't seem to close the gap on me. Down by only one game in 7 on 7 Drills, you'd think a 6-1 week would at least pull you even. Not so fast my friend. My second perfect 7-0 week gives doubled my lead to two games. Here are the results:

WEEK THIRTEEN
1. Ball State 31, Central Michigan 24
Brent: Ball State
Jason: Ball State
2. Oregon State 19, Arizona 17
Brent: Arizona
Jason: Oregon State
3. Florida State 37, Maryland 3
Brent: Florida State
Jason: Florida State
4. Cincinnati 28, Pittsburgh 21
Brent: Cincinnati
Jason: Cincinnati
5. Utah 48, BYU 24
Brent: Utah
Jason: Utah
6. Penn State 49, Michigan State 18
Brent: Penn State
Jason: Penn State
7. Oklahoma 65, Texas Tech 21
Brent: Oklahoma
Jason: Oklahoma


WEEK THIRTEEN RESULTS
Jason7-0 (100%)
Brent6-1 (85.7%)

SEASON RESULTS
Jason61-30 (67.0%)
Brent59-32 (64.8%)

11.22.2008

WEEK THIRTEEN - Top 25 Preview (Part II: Top 10)

#1 Alabama is IDLE

#2 Texas Tech at #7 Oklahoma
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
If this game had been played a week ago it would have been a no-brainer for me. Texas Tech is playing lights out, and honestly, they have been a more impressive team on both sides of the ball than Oklahoma in 2008. Tech brought unmatched fire and desire to their play in the trenches, and Mike Leach's commitment to the running game has given opposing defenses something to think about.

BUT, the week off might have given the Red Raiders too much time to think about their success. Plus, will leaving the friendly confines of Lubbock make all those holding calls magically reappear? Despite being one of the most penalized teams in the Big XII, they seemed to get away with a lot in those two big games against Texas and Oklahoma State.

So how does Oklahoma win this game? Sam Bradford and Gerald McCoy. Bradford will keep up his remarkably consistent high level of play if the Sooner O-Line can keep his shirt clean. Gerald McCoy, one of the best defensive tackles in the nation, will have the exact opposite effect on Graham Harrell.

Oklahoma will jump out to their usual fast start and build a big first half lead, but don't ever count the Red Raiders out. They'll mount a comeback, but come up just short. If the Sooners win, get ready for the national media to go crazy giving them more credit than they deserve.
J.Pike's Pick: Oklahoma 34, Texas Tech 31

The Citadel at #3 Florida
(Saturday, 12:30 pm, Sun Sports PPV)
Gotta love the way these SEC teams schedule. This might end up backfiring on the Gators actually. If the starters play past the first quarter in this game, I think it will kill the momentum they have built up over the last several weeks. Get those backups in early and treat this game like an off week or risk losing your feel for playing against the speed of the SEC.
J.Pike's Pick: Florida 58, The Citadel 7

#4 Texas is IDLE

#5 USC is IDLE

#6 Georgia is IDLE

24 BYU at #8 Utah
(Saturday, 5 pm, The Mtn.)
The Holy War should be a good one this year. BYU has a potentially explosive offense, but will they be able to move the ball against Paul Kruger, Stevenson Sylvester, and the Utah defense? I don't think so. Utah quarterback Brian Johnson will continue the Utes magical season with another solid day, but kicker Louie Sakoda will be the hero.
J.Pike's Pick: Utah 22, BYU 16

#13 Michigan State at #9 Penn State
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC/ESPN 2)
This will be a good old fashioned Big Ten game in the cold. Expect three yards and several clouds of dust because both teams will rely on their running backs to get things done. Penn State is the better team defensively, and I think they'll be able to slow down Javon Ringer.
J.Pike's Pick: Penn State 23, Michigan State 13

Michigan at #10 Ohio State
(Saturday, 11 am, ABC)
Don't get caught up in all the blowout talk. Ohio State is good, and they'll win this game, but that defense is possibly the most overrated unit in the nation. They have some solid players, but there isn't enough speed on that side of the ball to compete on a national level. Michigan has a good enough defense to keep the score down, and I won't be surprised if the Wolverines actually have a chance to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
J.Pike's Pick: Ohio State 20, Michigan 16

WEEK THIRTEEN - Top 25 Preview (Part I: 11-25)

#11 Boise State at Nevada
(Saturday, 3 pm)
This should be a great game out in the WAC. Nevada is on the rise thanks to the play of quarterback Collin Kaepernick, but Boise's unsung defense will be the difference.
J.Pike's Pick: Boise State 27, Nevada 23

#12 Oklahoma State is IDLE

#14 Missouri is IDLE

#15 Pittsburgh at #19 Cincinnati
(Saturday, 6:15 pm, ESPN 2)
Let's see, we've got a wildly inconsistent Pittsburgh team with a wildly inconsistent LeSean McCoy at running back going up against Tony Pike and and the surging Cincinnati Bearcats. The Big East title will probably go to the winner, so look for Tony Pike to make another Heisman statement with a huge game.
J.Pike's Pick: Cincinnati 24, Pittsburgh 20

Air Force at #16 TCU
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, Versus)
This is a full blown upset alert here. With all the talk about Gary Patterson leaving TCU to coach somewhere else, will the TCU players be fired up to play this game? I have my doubts. What I don't doubt is the Air Force Academy's ability to keep this game close and turn an Andy Dalton mistake into the game winning points down the stretch.
J.Pike's Pick: Air Force 19, TCU 16

#17 Oregon State at Arizona
(Saturday, 6 pm, Versus)
Oregon State is flying under the radar right now, but they actually control their own destiny in the Pac-10. Win out, and the Beavers will get the nod for a BCS game ahead of USC. Winning in the desert isn't as difficult as it once was, and I think the speed of the Rodgers' brothers will be too much for Arizona to match. Get ready to land back on that hot seat, Mikey.
J.Pike's Pike: Oregon State 31, Arizona 20

N.C. State at #18 North Carolina
(Saturday, 11 am, Raycom/ESPN360.com)
N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson has a bright future leading the Wolfpack. But in 2008 the Tar Heels are still the better team.
J.Pike's Pick: North Carolina 24, N.C. State 14

Ole Miss at #21 LSU
(Saturday, 2:0 pm, CBS)
After last week's gut check against Troy, LSU might be ready to finally grow up as a team this season. Houston Nutt has had an immediate impact on Ole Miss, turning them into a pesky up-and-comer in the SEC. The quarterback play in this game will be anything but stellar, so it will probably come down to who can control the line of scrimmage. LSU has the advantage there.
J.Pike's Pick: LSU 27, Ole Miss 20

#22 Boston College at Wake Forest
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC/ESPN 2)
I'm glad people are finally starting to see Riley Skinner for what he is: an average quarterback with a flimsy arm. The Demon Deacons are trailing off just as I expected this season because they lost too many key weapons. Conversely, Boston College is proving they still have life after Matt Ryan. Mark Herzlich is a big part of the Eagles' success. The linebacker is fantastic in coverage, and he's even a menace on special teams.
J.Pike's Pick: Boston College 21, Wake Forest 6

Florida State at #25 Maryland
(Saturday, 6:45 pm, ESPN)
Keep me away from the ACC. These games tend to go exactly the opposite of what I expect. Since I'm expecting Maryland to continue their dominance at home this season, and quarterback Chris Turner to continue playing his best against top opponents, I'll go with the Seminoles. As a side note, starting FSU safety Myron Rolle will miss most of this game because he is interviewing to become a Rhodes Scholar. Impressive.
J.Pike's Pick: Florida State 23, Maryland 17

11.21.2008

BP Picks against the Spread 11/22

Well the season is winding down and as you can see the Experts are not really the "experts". Should be another strong week for The Sledge.

The Sledge 297-271-6
The Experts 279-289-6


Miami +3.5 at Georgia Tech
Buffalo +3.5 at Bowling Green
Miami OH +3 at Toledo
Fresno St -2.5 at S Jose St.
Ohio St -20.5 vs Michigan
NC St +11 vs N Carolina
West Virginia -7 at Louisville
Rutgers -17 vs Army
Clemson -2.5 at Virginia
Indiana +13 at Purdue
Vanderbuilt -3 vs Tennessee
E Michigan +10.5 at Temple
Florida vs Citadel
Memphis -4.5 vs UCF
Colorado St -2.5 at Wyoming
Notre Dame -19.5 vs Syracuse
Arkansas +1 vs Mississippi St
Tulsa -29.5 vs Tulane
Rice -8 vs Marshall
Washington st +7.5 vs Washington
Florida Atlantic +5.5 vs Arkansas ST
Michigan St +14 at Penn St
Air Force +18.5 at TCU
Ole Miss +5 at LSU
Boston College +2 at Wake Forest
California +9 vs Stanford
Northwestern +2.5 vs Illinois
Akron -2.5 at Ohio
Houston -15.5 vs UTEP
Wisconsin vs Cal Poly
North Texas +20 at MTSU
Kansas St -10 vs Iowa St
La Tech -6.5 at NM St
Boise St -6 at Nevada
Virginia Tech -17 vs Duke
Utah -6 vs BYU
East Carolina -6.5 at UAB
Arizona -3 vs Oregon St.
UL Monroe +6.5 at FIU
Troy -7.5 vs UL Lafayette
Minnesota +5.5 vs Iowa
Cincinnati -4.5 vs Pittsburgh
Maryland -1 vs FSU
Oklahoma -6.5 vs Texas Tech
UNLV -12.5 at San Diego St
Hawaii -23.5 vs Idaho
S Florida -3 vs UCONN

11.20.2008

WEEK THIRTEEN - Preview

Michigan (+20½) over Ohio State
Call it a hunch, or call it a reaction to the widely held opinion that Ohio State is going to blow Michigan out – I feel like Michigan will cover this spread. The Wolverines aren’t as bad as their record, and Ohio State doesn’t typically blow people out. Michigan will play one good half and one bad half as usual, but I think the good half will be enough to keep the final score within three touchdowns.

Air Force (+18½) over TCU
I have my concerns over whether TCU will “show up” for this game or not. Even if they do, I’m not sure they can beat Air Force by more than 18 points. The Falcons have a pesky habit of hanging around.

Middle Tennessee (-19½) over North Texas High
There are only two more chances to bet against North Texas this season!

Other games I like, but don’t feel good enough about to give them “Lock” status:
Buffalo (+3½) over Bowling Green
Vanderbilt (-3) over Tennessee
Washington (-7½) over Washington State
Rice (-8½) over Marshall
Tulsa (-28½) over Tulane
Michigan State (+14½) over Penn State
Oregon State (+3) over Arizona
Minnesota (+5½) over Iowa

Thursday Night Football

#20 Miami (7-3) at Georgia Tech (7-3)
(Thursday, 6:30 pm, ESPN)
The ACC Coastal Division is up for grabs Thursday night as Miami puts their five game winning streak on the line in Atlanta. The Hurricanes cranked up the intensity on ESPN last Thursday night, thanks in large part to a sizable freshman contingent.

Offensively there aren't two phrases more troubling to most head coaches than "quarterback rotation" and "freshman quarterback". But at Miami, Robert Marve and Jacory Harris (both freshmen, both receiving significant snaps) are making it work. Harris in particular has the look of a big time college quarterback on the verge of a big breakout game.

On defense the Canes feature an excellent trio of freshmen, Sean Spence, Marcus Robinson, and Marcus Fortson. Spence, a linebacker, has been solid all season, ranking third on the team in tackles. Robinson, a defensive end, had his breakout game against Virginia Tech last Thursday night with three sacks. He'll give a banged up Georgia Tech offensive line all they can handle.

The Ramblin' Wreck O-line was already dealt a blow when senior Andrew Gardner, who had started every game since he's been on campus, went down with a shoulder injury. Now it looks like fellow starter David Brown is going to miss the Miami game due to injury as well.

With the injuries piling up for Georgia Tech, and with all the momentum on the side of the Hurricanes it would appear to be a no brainer as to who to pick. But this is the ACC. Up is down; black is white; right is wrong; and the ranked team seems to lose every time.

Miami has continually stalled out in the red zone this season, and the Yellow Jacket defensive line is more than capable of continuing that trend. Georgia Tech will get outplayed most of the night, but Jonathan Dwyer and Josh Nesbitt will find a way to steal the victory in the end.
J.Pike's Pick: Georgia Tech 16, Miami 12

11.19.2008

Wednesday Night Football

#23 Ball State (10-0) at Central Michigan (8-2)
(Wednesday, 6 pm, ESPN)
This game features two of the best junior quarterbacks in the nation. Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour put up Tim Tebow-like numbers a year ago, running and passing for a combined 46 touchdowns. His production has dropped off significantly this season, but he is still capable of putting the Chippewas on his back and carrying them to victory.

Ball State’s Nate Davis is one of the leading candidates for the Faulk Trophy. His steady play has led the Cardinals to a perfect 10-0 record despite the loss of the best receiver in the MAC, Dante Love, who suffered a severe spine injury in the fourth game of the season.

Without Love in the lineup, head coach Brady Hoke has leaned more on the running game than expected. MiQuale Lewis responded to the challenge in a big way, with his 1,273 yards and 17 td pacing the MAC’s top rushing attack.

The Ball State offensive line has been excellent in 2008 so far, but they’ll have their hands full trying to block Frank Zombo. The senior Chippewa pass rusher has 8 sacks, which matches the total the Cardinals line has allowed all season.

If Zombo can break through and cause some disruption in the backfield, it will take a lot of pressure off the porous CMU secondary. The Chippewas allow a league-worst 273.7 yards passing per game, which isn’t good going up against one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.

One other chance Central has for generating some momentum is the play of Antonio Brown. Not only does Brown lead the team in receptions, he’s also one of the top punt returners around.

Overall I give Ball State the edge. Despite the fact that the game will be played in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, Hoke has the better overall team in all three phases of the game. The Cardinals don’t beat themselves, and I don’t believe the Chippewa defense will be able to contain Nate Davis.
J.Pike’s Pick: Ball State 31, Central Michigan 23

11.18.2008

Will Muschamp News

Big news out of Austin this afternoon: Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, one of the hottest commodities on the Coaching Carousel, isn't going anywhere.

Mack Brown announced today that Muschamp will remain on staff as the defensive coordinator, and will eventually replace Brown as the head coach when he decides to retire. [LINK]

This is big news because Muschamp has been linked to a number of open jobs (Clemson and Tennessee to name two). He's such a hot commodity because he has consistently coordinated great defenses over the last several years, including the national championship defense at LSU in 2004.

I'm sure the rest of the Big XII wasn't as happy with this news as the people in Austin.

Mack Brown still has eight years left on his contract, and said he has no plans of retiring in the immediate future. That means there is still plenty of time for Muschamp to change his mind. Personally, I believe he'll stay in Austin because the Texas job is one of the top gems in the coaching world - 95% of all coaches would kill for it. Even if Muschamp has to wait eight years, he'll only be 46 years old when he gets the job. And taking over the Texas job when you're 46 is a pretty sweet gig.

Even if he does end up getting wooed to go somewhere else in a couple years, at least he drove up his price a little bit. And Texas will get at least a couple more years of great defenses out of him.

News & Notes

*BYU could be without two key starters on offense Saturday night when they take on undefeated rival Utah. All-Mountain West offensive lineman Ray Feinga is listed as questionable due to a lower back strain. Tight end Dennis Pitta, a big part of the passing game with 76 receptions for 992 yards (3rd best in the conference), is also listed as questionable due to a sprained knee. If both of these players aren't able to play, it could spell big trouble against the stout Ute defense.

*North Carolina head coach Butch Davis has opened up the quarterback job again. T.J. Yates, the starter until a broken left ankle caused him to miss the last 7 games, is now healthy enough to play. Cam Sexton went 4-2 in his absence, but his struggles against Maryland caused Davis to re-evaluate the position. I expect Yates to win his job back and lead the Tarheels the rest of the way.

*Steven Threet probably won't be available for Michigan this weekend thanks to a shoulder injury. The reeling Wolverines take on bitter rival Ohio State, and they will be forced to go with Nick Sheridan at quarterback. With a 3-8 record already guaranteeing this to be the worst season in the program's history, Threet's injury can't be considered much more than par for the course this year.

*Notre Dame will be without two starters for the next two games. Freshman wide receiver Michael Floyd and middle linebacker Brian Smith both suffered knee injuries in the win against Navy Saturday. Smith was the team's fourth leading tackler, but Floyd is the more damaging loss. The rangy freshman is easily one of the best skill players the Domers have had in years and he has already had a notable impact on the offense.

*Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer is electing to start Jonathan Crompton at quarterback. The Vols travel to face in-state rival Vanderbilt this weekend, who happen to have one of the most talented secondaries in the SEC. I have a feeling it won't take long for Compton to get yanked for poor play once again.

*Finally, here's some early news for the Ball State/Western Michigan game in a couple of weeks. Two time All-MAC cornerback Londen Fryar might miss what could be an epic matchup due to a toe injury. The injury caused him to miss last week's game against Toledo, but the Broncos have a bye week and hope he can recover in time.

11.17.2008

BP25 Week of 11/17

1 Alabama Crimson Tide IDLE
That Defense is the real thing and give Mr Coffee some love.
2 Florida Gators vs The Citadel
Giving the SEC the nod this week, Urban Meyer is the bully at the schoolyard poor Spurrier no more lunch money. Also will the Gators Score 100 this week against the Citadel?
3 Texas Tech Red Raiders At #9 Oklahoma
This will be the toughest game so far and lets see Tech outside of Lubbock. Maybe that soft early season schedule will come back to haunt.
4 Texas Longhorns IDLE
Shredded Jabba's Jayhawks but will have to wait their turn and wait for a team to slip.
5 Georgia Bulldogs IDLE
I know they have to losses but its to #1 and #2!
6 Utah Utes vs #18 BYU
One more game till Cinderella shows up. BCS machine will be hurting this year.
7 USC Trojans IDLE
Looking better and better every week, seem to be peaking but PAC-10 is horrible so strength of schedule catching up with them.
8 Boise St Broncos AT Nevada
Biggest game since Oregon and the Wolfpack has been playing better lately, BCS is praying Nevada wins.
9 Oklahoma Sooners vs #3 Texas Tech
Sooners have their first big game since losing to Texas and they are playing their best football right now. This game will be epic.
10 Ohio St Buckeyes vs Michigan
This Defense is the best in the nation, Wolverines and Richie Rich Rodriguez will have their hides tanned.
11 Penn St Nittany Lions vs #12 Michigan St.
Will this be Joe Pa's last regular season game? The Spartans may make that happen.
12 Michigan St Spartans AT #11 Penn St.
Javon Ringer will be leaned on heavily against the stout Penn St D, another great matchup!
13 Ball St Cardinals AT #24 C Michigan
First Test for the Cards, BCS wants this story to end also.
14 Oklahoma St Cowboys IDLE
Sitting on the sideline waiting for the Sooners, Dez Bryant is incredible.
15 Missouri Tigers IDLE
Chase and Co. have been looking like Missouri lately.
16 Cincinnati Bearcats vs #17 Pittsburgh
Tony Pike continues his heisman push.
17 Pittsburgh Panthers AT #16 Cincinnati
Another big game with alot on the line, Will Lesean McCoy show up?
18 BYU Cougars AT #6 Utah
The Soft Cougars will pay the hard nose Utes, but anything can happen...
19 N Carolina Tar Heels vs NC St
Another upset by Maryland and they face the suddenly better Wolfpack, watch out for Robert Wilson
20 TCU Horned Frogs vs Air Force
Which Horned Frog team will show up? If they care this will be a route.
21 Miami Hurricanes AT Georgia Tech
The Young Canes will be facing a very tired Ga Tech.
22 LSU Tigers vs Ole Miss
The Tigers really need to pad that resume, Troy gave them all they can handle but it showed they still have something in the tank
23 Oregon St Beavers AT Arizona
Maybe one of the hottest teams going right now, but Desert may claim another victim in their search for a bowl
24 C Michigan Chippewas vs #13 Ball St.
Are they deserving of a spot we will see this weekend.
25 Boston College Eagles AT Wake Forest
This Defense is for real, still not sold on Frazier Crane.

Florida St AT Maryland
W Michigan IDLE
Georgia Tech vs #21 Miami
Virginia Tech vs Duke
Nebraska IDLE
UCONN AT South Florida
Oregon IDLE
Maryland vs Florida St.
S Carolina IDLE
Tulsa vs Tulane

Does the Mountain West Exist?

If a game is to be played between two top 25 teams, but it’s going to be on a channel 99% of America doesn’t get, does the game actually exist?

I have professed my affinity for the Mountain West on this site before, and I still think it is a better league top-to-bottom than the Big East this year. But it’s getting harder and harder to defend the league from the slam jobs going on in the national media.

Popular opinion is that Utah, if they go undefeated has no business playing in a BCS bowl game. Most casual college football fans see the league as being on par with the WAC. I disagree. If you’re going to give the Big East and ACC champs a spot in the BCS this year, then Utah more than deserves a bid if they go undefeated. In fact, I’ll take it a step further and say that the Mountain West champ – even with a loss – is more deserving of a BCS bid than the ACC or Big East champ.

The problem is I have a hard time convincing anybody of this (including myself) because there are never any Mountain West games on television. It’s hard to commit to defending the league when I never actually get to see any of its teams play. Even inferior leagues like the MAC and WAC have tv contracts far better than what the Mountain West has.

Here’s some proof: Potentially the biggest game in the conference’s history will be played Saturday night between 8th ranked Utah (11-0), and 24th ranked BYU (10-1). However the game is set to be televised by some network called “The Mtn.” [LINK]. Do you get this network? Have you ever heard of it? I answered “no” to those questions, and I follow these sorts of things pretty closely.

It’s an abomination to me that this game won’t be on a channel that anybody gets, but it’s even worse that it isn’t going to be streamed on the internet for free. That means Utah/BYU won’t be seen by anybody outside the 45,000 or so at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Even the die hard college football fans that go out of their way to try to find it will most likely not get to watch.

There have been some rumblings this fall of the Mountain West making a case to become an official member of the BCS. I’m not sure how they plan to make a move of this magnitude without at least a little bit of support from the casual football fan.

If the Mountain West wants to gain some legitimacy among casual fans, they have to get some of their games on channels the rest of the world has heard of. I'm not saying they should sell their soul like the MAC and play games on Tuesday and Wednesday every week, but at least make big games like Utah/BYU available for free online so that people like me who have an interest can watch and spread the word.

11.16.2008

JP25 Update

In a week that featured virtually no upsets (other than in ACC country), there is little reason to shake up my top 25. Alabama took care of business against pesky Mississippi State while Texas and Florida proved they are both deserving title game contestants should Texas Tech or the Crimson Tide falter.

USC finally showed a little heart in the second half against Stanford. After sleepwalking through the past three seasons, the Trojans finally looked like they actually cared about winning a game rather than padding their NFL resumes. I still don't think they are a top five team, but the fact that they are playing with a fire now makes them dangerous.

Speaking of the Pac-10, why haven't I ranked Oregon State until now? That's a pretty good team.

Is anybody going to step up and take control of the ACC? The frontrunners in that conference are dropping like flies, only to re-emerge two or three weeks later. Is North Carolina the top dog? Is it Maryland? Miami? Boston College, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Virginia Tech and even Virginia and Wake Forest all still have a chance to win the conference. And we're getting toward the end of November now!

How weird is it that one of the three teams completely out of the running in the ACC race is Clemson? In the preseason it looked like Clemson was head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. I guess that's why they play the games. That's also probably part of the reason Tommy Bowden isn't patrolling the sideline any more.

Top 25 (last week, record)
1. Texas Tech (1, 10-0)
2. Alabama (2, 11-0)
3. Texas (3, 10-1)
4. Florida (4, 9-1)
5. Oklahoma (5, 9-1)
6. USC (7, 9-1)
7. Penn State (6, 10-1)
8. Georgia (8, 9-2)
9. Ohio State (9, 9-2)
10. Utah (10, 11-0)
11. Oklahoma State (11, 9-2)
12. Boise State (12, 10-0)
13. Missouri (14, 9-2)
14. Oregon State (NR, 7-3)
15. Michigan State (18, 9-2)
16. TCU (17, 9-2)
17. Pittsburgh (22, 7-2)
18. Maryland (NR, 7-3)
19. North Carolina (15, 7-3)
20. Miami (NR, 7-3)
21. LSU (13, 7-3)
22. Georgia Tech (19, 7-3)
23. Boston College (23, 7-3)
24. Oregon (24, 8-3)
25. Cincinnati (25, 8-2)

Dropped Out: California (16), Florida State (20), Virginia Tech (21)

Just Missed the Cut: Ball State (10-0), Virginia Tech (6-4), BYU (10-1), California (6-4), Nebraska (7-4), Florida State (7-3), West Virginia (6-3), Northwestern (8-3), Iowa (7-4)

Week Twelve Results

B.PIKE

Against The Spread
Midweek Games: 3-4 (42.9%)
Saturday
: 25-16-1 (60.7%)

Week Twelve Total: 28-20-1 (58.2%)
SEASON TOTAL: 294-275-11 (51.6%)

J.PIKE

Straight Up
Midweek Games: 2-0 (100%)
Top 25 Picks
: 12-4 (75%)
Under the Radar: 1-2 (33.3%)

Week Twelve Total: 15-6 (71.4%)
SEASON TOTAL: 253-95 (72.7%)

Against The Spread
Locks: 2-1 (66.7%)
Other Picks: 4-3 (57.1%)

Week Twelve Total: 6-4 (60%)
SEASON TOTAL: 71-69-1 (50.7%)
SEASON TOTAL ("Locks"): 32-23 (58.2%)

Week Twelve Recap - 7 on 7 Drills

Thanks to the ACC, both of us here at Pikes Picks had a mediocre week in 7 on 7 Drills. It seems like every week the top of the ACC chokes against the bottom half of the conference. So even though we're more than half way through November now, 9 of the 12 teams in that conference still have a chance to go to the ACC Championship Game. Ridiculous!

WEEK TWELVE
1. Georgia @ Auburn
Brent: Georgia
Jason: Georgia
2. Ohio State @ Illinois
Brent: Ohio State
Jason: Ohio State
3. BYU @ Air Force
Brent: Air Force
Jason: BYU
4. Boston College @ Florida State
Brent: Florida State
Jason: Florida State
5. North Carolina @ Maryland
Brent: North Carolina
Jason: North Carolina
6. California @ Oregon State
Brent: Oregon State
Jason: California
7. South Carolina @ Florida
Brent: Florida
Jason: Florida


WEEK TWELVE RESULTS
Jason4-3 (57.1%)
Brent4-3 (57.1%)

SEASON RESULTS
Jason54-30 (64.3%)
Brent53-31 (63.1%)

Tony Pike Update

Surprise surprise. Cincinnati finally got a Pike at quarterback and they won the Keg of Nails for the first time in six years.

It was a soggy Friday night, but that didn't stop junior quarterback Tony Pike from throwing for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns against rival Louisville. Despite trailing 17-14 at halftime, Pike and the Bearcats dominated the second half en route to a 28-20 win.

Unfortunately Pike was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury.

The Tony Pike Stat Line
Passing: 19/33 (57.6%) for 250 yards, 2 td, 1 int
Rushing: 3 attempts for 2 yards

See sidebar for season stats

11.15.2008

Gameday Commentary - 2:30 games

Oregon State 34, California 21
Oregon State has some speed. Between Jacquizz Rodgers, James Rodgers, and Sammie Stroughter, the Beavers have enough speed to run circles around the rest of their schedule (Arizona and Oregon) and take home the Pac-10 title. The trio combined for 475 all purpose yards and 3 touchdowns. Wow. How did those speedy Rodgers brothers not get out of Texas?

Florida 56, South Carolina 6
Oh, I get it. Florida is so good because of their defense and special teams. I'm still not impressed with the offense, but the defense and special teams are indeed special. Both units picked up a touchdown in the first quarter, and that has become the norm in Gainesville lately.

The speed the Gators have on defense and special teams is matched only by the fire with which they play. If Florida goes on to run the table and beat Alabama in the SEC championship game, it won't be because of their inconsistent offense. It will be because of the play of the defense and special teams.

Can somebody please tell me why Charlie Strong doesn't have a head coaching job yet??

Wisconsin 35, Minnesota 32
The little mistakes are starting to add up for Minnesota. Despite an impressive 7-1 start, the Gophers are reverting to 2007 form during the now 3-game losing streak.

Minnesota took an easy 21-7 lead into the locker room at half time. They even took a 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter, but that's when they fell apart. Specifically, the special teams fell apart.

Early in the fourth quarter, right after Wisconsin tied up the game at 24 apiece, Troy Stoudermire fumbled the ensuing kickoff and it went out the back of the end zone for a safety. Then after forcing a Wisconsin punt on the next drive, the Minnesota punt returner made a bone headed decision to field the ball inside his own five yard line. That decision led to another safety for the Badgers.

Two safeties in 3 minutes of game time meant Wisconsin would have all the momentum for the rest of the game. But to make matters worse, quarterback Adam Weber fumbled at his own 11 yard line on the next Minnesota possession, which Wisconsin turned into a touchdown. Game over. Tim Brewster needs to get these mistakes ironed out.

As a side note, Wisconsin looks to have finally found a quarterback. Dustin Sherer has a good arm and played with excellent composure. The junior had a huge third quarter and made some clutch throws to get the Badgers back in the game.

Gameday Commentary - 11 o'clock games

Notre Dame 27, Navy 21
Navy nearly made their second remarkable fourth quarter comeback in as many weeks. Trailing 27-7 in the fourth quarter, sophomore quarterback Ricky Dobbs sparked a comeback that included two onside kick recoveries, but fell just short.

Notre Dame displayed an excellent running game. The three headed monster of James Aldridge, Armando Allen, and Robert Hughes combined to pound the undersized Navy defense to the tune of 230 rushing yards.

Yet again, Jimmy Clausen was inconsistent and threw two interceptions. If Notre Dame wants to get better, they'll rely more on their solid running game than on the unreliable arm of the overconfident Clausen.

Keep an eye on Navy's Dobbs. I have a feeling you'll be hearing a lot about him over the next two years. He's got great athleticism to run the triple option, but he has a stronger arm than any Navy quarterback in recent memory.

Northwestern 21, Michigan 14
Michigan lost their school record 8th game of the season in snow flurries against Northwestern. I know this is going to prompt even more criticism from Michigan fans and the national media, but everyone needs to hit the breaks a little bit.

Sure, and 8-loss season is something Michigan should never have to experience, but when you consider the magnitude of the overhaul taking place to the offense, you have to expect some setbacks. Watching the game, I didn't get the feeling that Michigan was a terrible team. Defensively they are actually quite good.

The 2008 Wolverines are simply a team in transition, and hasn't been able to catch any breaks this season. So lay off Rich Rodriguez (at least for the time being), because he needs at least a couple more years to get his players in place before it's fair to make a judgment on the job he is doing in Ann Arbor.

Georgia 17, Auburn, 13
As expected this was an ugly, low scoring game. Auburn proved to me they haven't quit on this season. Despite all the coaching turmoil and the mounting losses, the Auburn players were still giving a solid effort on the field, and almost pulled the upset.

The main question I had watching the game is: what in the world was Tony Franklin thinking? For some reason, Franklin had it in his head that Chris Todd was a better quarterback than Kodi Burns. Well, he couldn't have been more wrong - and maybe that had something to do with his firing at mid-season.

Burns played a solid game against Georgia. His athleticism is obviously far superior to Todd's, but Burns proved to me today that he is a much better pocket passer as well. Burns has a stronger arm, and more importantly, doesn't panic in the pocket and make stupid throws the way Todd did. In the SEC, you can't have a quarterback that can't handle a pass rush.

BP-Picks against the Spread 11/15

This is where the rubber meets the road and with just 4 weeks left(I can't believe the season is almost over),it's time to prove that Pikes Picks is consistently better then the competition.

The Sledge 267-252-5
The "Experts" 258-261-5

And to the picks:

Ball St -18.5 at Miami(oh), LOSS
Temple -2.5 at Kent St, LOSS
Central Michigan +3 at N. Illinois, WIN
Buffalo +2.5 at Akron, WIN
Miami -4 vs Virginia Tech, LOSS
UNLV -8.5 vs Wyoming, LOSS
Cincinnati -3 at Louisville, WIN
Alabama -19.5 vs Miss St.
Indiana +34 at Penn St.
Florida -21 vs S Carolina
Ohio St -10 at Illinois
Georgia -8 at Auburn
Northwestern +3.5 at Michigan
Rutgers +7.5 at USF
Clemson -11.5 vs Duke
Notre Dame -3 at Navy
Iowa -14 vs Purdue
Texas -13 at Kansas
Middle Tennessee St at W Kentucky
Colorado St -1 vs New Mexico
Ole Miss -21 vs ULM
W Michigan -16 vs Toledo
Louisiana Tech -13 vs Utah St.
S Mississippi -2.5 vs E Carolina
Tulane -4.5 vs UAB
Air Force +4 vs BYU
Maryland +3 vs N Carolina
Oregon St -3 vs California
NC St +4 vs Wake Forest
Wisconsin -13.5 vs Minnesota
Arizona +3.5 at Oregon
Nebraska -6.5 at Kansas St.
Florida Atlantic +2.5 vs UL-Lafayette
Texas A&M +7.5 at Baylor
Nevada -14.5 vs San Jose St.
Marshall -7.5 vs UCF
Boise St. -34.5 at Idaho
N Mexico St +15 at Fresno St.
Washington St. +36.5 at Arizona St.
Missouri -26.5 at Iowa St.
USC -22.5 at Stanford
Connecticut -10 at Syracuse
Utah -28.5 at San Diego State
Oklahoma St -17.5 at Colorado
LSU -19.5 vs Troy
Boston College +7 at Florida St.
Kentucky -4.5 vs Vanderbuilt
Tulsa -5 at Houston
UTEP -10 vs SMU
UCLA -7.5 at Washington

WEEK TWELVE - Top 25 Preview (Part II: Top 10)

#1 Texas Tech is IDLE

Mississippi State @ #2 Alabama
(Saturday, 6:45 pm, ESPN)
This game comes down to whether or not Alabama shows up. The fact that the Crimson Tide have lost two in a row to the Croomdawgs means Nick Saban didn’t have to work too hard to get his team’s attention. It will probably still be a hard fought, low scoring game, but I don’t expect Bama to have too much trouble dismissing Mississippi State.
J.Pike’s Pick: Alabama 22, Mississippi State 10

#3 Texas @ Kansas
(Saturday, 11:30 am, FSN)
Simply put, this isn’t the same Kansas team that won a BCS bowl game last year. The Jayhawks definitely miss defensive coordinator Bill Young, who took over the DC job at Miami in the offseason. Kansas is giving up a Big XII worst 276.3 passing yards per game, which means Texas quarterback Colt McCoy should be in for yet another big day. The Longhorns will put this one away early and erase all the recent memories of photo finishes in Lawrence.
J.Pike’s Pick: Texas 42, Kansas 24

South Carolina @ #4 Florida
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, CBS)
I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea what to expect from this Florida team on a week to week basis. Urban Meyer’s squad has as much athleticism as any team in the nation, but they seem to rely on their speed more than on Xs and Os. That leaves the door open for any opponent they face to sneak out of town with a win (see Ole Miss earlier this season). South Carolina brings a solid defense to The Swamp, highlighted by speedy defensive end Eric Norwood and tackling machine Emanuel Cook (if Cook ever misses a tackle, let me know). But the Gamecock offense is anything but consistent. Steve Spurrier keeps going back and forth between freshman Stephen Garcia and error prone (but eligible) Chris Smelley, and that leads to drastic ebbs in the cohesiveness of the offense. I would say Garcia should be the guy, but I have a feeling Smelley might come up big in this game. South Carolina will keep it close, but I’ll give Florida the nod.
J.Pike’s Pick: Florida 24, South Carolina 18

Indiana @ #5 Penn State
(Saturday, 11 am, Big Ten Network)
After getting knocked out of the national title picture with a loss to Iowa last week, you might think the Nittany Lions would pack it in for the season. But the senior leadership on this team won’t let that happen. Quarterback Darryl Clark has been inconsistent of late, but facing the Big Ten’s worst pass defense should allow him and his three senior receivers to get back on track.
J.Pike’s Pick: Penn State 37, Indiana 13

#6 Utah @ San Diego State
(Saturday, 7 pm, The Mtn.)
The clutch comeback win at home over TCU last Thursday night was huge. Now the Utes get to stretch their legs a little bit and get some backups some valuable game experience because San Diego State doesn’t have a chance to compete in this one. Utah was held to 13 points against the stingy Frog defense, but Brian Johnson and company should have no problem putting points on an Aztec defense that has given up at least 35 points in each of the last six games.
J.Pike’s Pick: Utah 44, San Diego State 7

#7 Oklahoma is IDLE

#8 USC @ Stanford
(Saturday, 6 pm, Versus)
I’ve been calling for it for weeks, so here it is: Stanford will upset USC. Again. I know nobody has forgotten about last season when Jim Harbaugh’s troops marched into the Coleseum and emerged victorious, despite being 42 point underdogs. How did they do it? They played scrappy defense, collecting four sacks and forcing five turnovers. Well, fast forward a year and Stanford is now leading the Pac-10 in sacks. They’ll get to Mark Sanchez and force him to make decisions on the run, which means USC will struggle to score. That opens the door for the surprisingly physical Stanford offense to ride Toby Gerhart and the Pac-10’s second ranked rushing attack to victory. USC has been playing outstanding defense of late, but they haven’t really faced a real challenge during that stretch. Oregon State proved that if you aren’t scared of USC, and you come out and punch them in the mouth, the Trojans will back down. Because there’s no use risking an NFL career for a meaningless college game …
J.Pike’s Pick: Stanford 20, USC 18

#9 Georgia @ Auburn
(Saturday, 11:30 am, Raycom/ESPN360.com)
My, how the mighty have fallen. Before the season started I circled this game as one of the top five games to watch this year. Auburn was a preseason top 10 team and Georgia started the year at the very top of the polls. Now Georgia is struggling to maintain legitimacy at 8-2 while Auburn wallows in the pit of the SEC at 5-5. This game could be ugly. Auburn is only averaging 13.3 points per game in SEC play, but they can play a little defense when their hearts are in it. Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno’s heart is always in it, and I expect him to carry the Bulldogs this afternoon.
J.Pike’s Pick: Georgia 24, Auburn 12

#10 Boise State @ Idaho
(Saturday, 4 pm)
It’s a Potato State showdown! Is Boise State ever going to play anybody again? Idaho is one of the worst teams in Division 1A, and there will probably be more Boise fans at the game than Vandals. Boise makes French fries out of Idaho and rolls to 10-0.
J.Pike’s Pick: Boise State 38, Idaho 6

WEEK TWELVE - Top 25 Preview (Part I: 11-25)

#11 Ohio State @ Illinois
(Saturday, 11 am, ESPN)
Illinois became the first blemish on the Ohio State’s Big Ten record late last season, breaking their 20 game conference winning streak. Don’t think the Illini can’t do it again either. Why? Because they possess Buckeye kryptonite – speed. Juice Williams ran circles around James Laurinaitis and company a year ago, and he and Benn will team up to give the Buckeyes problems again on Saturday. The difference between last year and this year though is quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Pryor will be the main ingredient in holding off a motivated Ron Zook squad as the Buckeyes escape Champaigne with a win.
J.Pike’s Pick: Ohio State 25, Illinois 22

#12 Oklahoma State @ Colorado
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
Colorado is struggling right now. Thanks in large part to the growing number of injured starters, the Buffaloes have lost two of their last three ball games. Oklahoma State is coming off a beat-down suffered at the hands of Texas Tech, but the Cowboys have more than enough offensive weapons to put this game away early.
J.Pike’s Pick: Oklahoma State 41, Colorado 17

#13 North Carolina @ Maryland
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC/ESPN)
Sure, Maryland is a perfect 5-0 at home this year and has defeated all three ranked opponents they have played, but the Terps haven’t played a team like North Carolina yet. Butch Davis has his young team playing the best football of his tenure. Quan Sturdivant (77 tackles) and Trimane Goddard (6 interceptions) lead an improving defense that ranks fourth in the ACC in points allowed. Maryland on the other hand is a poor tackling team with nobody to match up with receiver Hakeem Nicks. North Carolina keeps pace with Miami in the Coastal Division by picking up a clutch road win over Maryland.
J.Pike’s Pick: North Carolina 27, Maryland 17

#14 Missouri @ Iowa State
(Saturday, 5:30 pm, FSN)
Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin are finally getting Missouri back on track. After losing two in a row to Big XII South powers Oklahoma State and Texas, the Tigers have struggled to find their rhythm. Considering Iowa State has the worst pass defense in the conference, it’s safe to assume Maclin will see a fair share of passes. If Iowa State has one advantage it’s in the return game where true freshman Leonard Johnson has shown some flash this year. He might be able to take advantage of Mizzou’s often-lackadaisical special teams to provide a spark and keep the Cyclones in this game. At least for a little bit.
J.Pike’s Pick: Missouri 44, Iowa State 20

#15 Michigan State is IDLE

#16 TCU is IDLE

#17 Pittsburgh is IDLE

Boston College @ #18 Florida State
(Saturday, 7 pm, ABC)
Florida State is quietly putting together a solid season. After more seasons of mediocrity than ‘Nole fans care to remember, Jimbo Fisher (he’s the head coach now, right?) has paced his team to a 7-2 start. With Boston College coming to town, the Seminoles face their toughest test to date. BC linebacker Mark Herzlich is a menace who will continue making plays all over the field (even on special teams!), and he’ll make sure nothing is easy for FSU quarterback Christian Ponder. Bobby Bowden announced that five wide receivers will be suspended from this game, but none of them are Greg Carr or Preston Parker, so it won’t matter. Everette Brown (9 sacks), Derek Nicholson (10 tackles for loss) and the Florida State defense hold a significant advantage over the BC offense in nearly every category. That’s where the game will be won. The ‘Noles avoid the upset.
J.Pike’s Pick: Florida State 22, Boston College 16

Troy @ #22 LSU
(Saturday, 7 pm, Tiger Vision PPV)
LSU is on the verge of dropping out of the top 25 entirely. After losing big to Florida and Georgia, the Tigers needed a win over Alabama to maintain legitimacy. Well, the game went into overtime, but nobody watching came out of the game with any confidence at all in quarterback Jarrett Lee. Will Lee be able to find a rhythm against a respectable Sun Belt opponent? It probably won’t matter because Charles Scott and Keiland Williams should have a field day running on the nation’s 55th ranked rush defense.
J.Pike’s Pick: LSU 33, Troy 16

#23 California @ Oregon State
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, ABC)
If for no other reason, you should tune into this game for the exciting running backs. Neither Jahvid Best or Quizz Rodgers stand much taller than an Ewok, but the pair has enough speed and athleticism to light up scoreboards and pad highlight reels. Both teams also field solid defenses, so the two mighty mite backs will have to earn their yards today. The difference in this game will actually come down to quarterback play. Cal will be going with Kevin Riley (a huge upgrade over Nate Longshore), who isn’t flashy, but just knows how to win. Lyle Moevao is inconsistent, and facing a Cal defense that leads the Pac-10 with 17 interceptions, I think he’ll make a key mistake down the stretch, probably involving a forced pass that gets picked off by Cal’s stud corner Syd’Quan Thompson.
J.Pike’s Pick: California 23, Oregon State 22

#24 Georgia Tech is IDLE

#25 BYU @ Air Force
(Saturday, 2:30 pm, CBS College Sports)
I love Troy Calhoun and the Falcons. Unfortunately this is a game where BYU’s skill will be too much for Air Force to handle. Harvey Unga, not Max Hall, will be the reason for victory. The bruising sophomore will be able to gain tough yards against the undersized Air Force front which will keep the chains moving.
J.Pike’s Pick: BYU 28, Air Force 24

11.14.2008

WEEK TWELVE - Preview

Tulane (-5) over UAB
Tulane running back Andre Anderson must be licking his chops. UAB allowed Southern Miss to put 70 points on the board the last time they took the field, and that included a big performance by USM on the ground (463 rushing yards, 4 players over 80 rushing yards). Anderson averages a Conference USA best 123.4 rushing yards per game and he’ll look to improve on that number. I like UAB quarterback Joe Webb, but he simply doesn’t have enough help to keep this game close.

Nebraska (-6½) over Kansas State
The Blackshirts are back! As a result, the Big Red defense will play their best game of the season against the lifeless Wildcats.

Stanford (+22½) over USC
USC has been playing great defense lately, allowing a paltry 13 points over the last five games. That doesn’t mean the Trojans have been pounding people though - quite the contrary as a matter of fact. Disregarding the games against Washington and Washington State (who hasn’t beaten up on those two this year?), USC’s margin of victory in Pac-10 play is an underwhelming 15 points per game. Considering Stanford was able to pull the upset last year in the Coliseum, I have a feeling this game will go down to the wire.

Other games I like, but don’t feel good enough about to give them “Lock” status:
Rutgers (+7½) over South Florida
Texas (-13) over Kansas
New Mexico State (+15) over Fresno State
Oklahoma State (-17½) over Colorado
Utah (-28) over San Diego State
North Carolina (-2½) over Maryland
Texas A&M (+8) over Baylor